Public Order highlights: Monday, October 17

On Monday, October 17, the Public Order Emergency Commission heard testimony from public servants for the City of Ottawa. There was some discussion between the lawyers and City of Ottawa employee, Steve Kanellakos, that the City of Ottawa and the police were negotiating with representatives for the truckers, including lawyer, Keith Wilson, for the removal of some trucks from the downtown core.

The commission heard that the City of Ottawa had the authority to close roads, but Mr. Kanellakos stated, "we wouldn't close roads without the support of the Ottawa Police."

In cross-examination, Mr. Kanellakos stated that on February 12, 2022, an agreement with protesters had been reached, which the city considered a "short-term victory." By Monday, February 14, 2022, some trucks were already leaving residential areas pursuant to this agreement. Mr. Kanellakos suggested that the number of trucks removed by the truckers was not clear. He speculated that it may be about 40 but up to 100. On cross-examination, he suggested that the police or Parliamentary protection service may have prevented the removal of trucks on Wellington street downtown. Chief Sloly had resigned at this point and he believed this had affected the approach taken to the situation.

Serge Arpin, chief of staff to City of Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, was asked on cross-examination if police prevented implementation of the deal to remove trucks. Mr. Arpin conceded that there was no indication that truckers would renege on the deal to remove the trucks. However, he mentioned that, with the declaration of an emergency, the situation changed. Further, Mr. Arpin added that it became "quickly apparent" that protesters "never intended to hurt ordinary people in residential districts." Text messages from February 13, 2022 between Mr. Arpin and Minister of Public Safety, Marco Mendicino, showed that the Minister was aware of negotiations between the convoy leaders and the City of Ottawa for the removal of trucks.

It is important to recall that, in order to justify its declaration of a public order emergency under the Emergencies Act, the government must establish, on reasonable grounds, that a public order emergency exists and necessitates the taking of special temporary measures for dealing with the emergency. The situation must be so dire that it cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada.

The definition of a public order emergency is an emergency that arises from threats to the security of Canada and that is so serious as to be a national emergency.

Threats to the security of Canada is defined, in the Canadian Security Intelligence Services Act as: (a) espionage or sabotage that is against Canada or is detrimental to the interests of Canada or activities directed toward or in support of such espionage or sabotage, (b) foreign influenced activities within or relating to Canada that are detrimental to the interests of Canada and are clandestine or deceptive or involve a threat to any person, (c) activities within or relating to Canada directed toward or in support of the threat or use of acts of serious violence against persons or property for the purpose of achieving a political, religious or ideological objective within Canada or a foreign state, and (d) activities directed toward undermining by covert unlawful acts, or directed toward or intended ultimately to lead to the destruction or overthrow by violence of, the constitutionally established system of government in Canada.

*All quotes are subject to revision as Commission video and transcripts become available.

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